Focusing on the need for transformational leaders in organisations, animal metaphors are used to identify three sorts of leaders commonly found – sharks (who like to win at all costs), carp (who keep a low, passive profile) and dolphins (who are proactive, learn from setbacks and use “breakthrough thinking” to solve problems). Dolphin thinking is seen to be in short supply but urgently needed in a world of constant change and uncertainty. Some promising signs of dolphin thinking amongst leaders are identified in the total quality, mentoring and TEC movements. Human resource specialists are challenged to help to increase the supply of dolphin thinking through encouraging more open attitudes to recruitment and through generating a learning orientation in their directors, in their organisations and in themselves. Examples of innovative approaches to leadership are explored and David Kearns, Chairman of Xerox, is used as an illustration of a successful transformational leader.
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